1. Visa restrictions
2. Freedom of movement for Aids sufferers
3. National border defenses
3.1. The US-Mexican border
3.2. The India-Pakistan border
3.3. The separation wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories
3.4. The DMZ between North and South Korea
3.5. Borders throughout the world
One way to measure freedom of movement – at least cross-border movement – is to look at countries’ visa policies. Here’s an absurd anecdote:
(source, click image to enlarge)
AIDS sufferers face particular problems when they want to gain access to another country’s territory. In 2012, both China and America have lifted 20 year bans stopping individuals with HIV from entering, but 51 countries still restrict movement in some form (be it entry to the country or a stay therein) based on a person’s HIV status.
Visa policies are but one type of border control which countries use to limit cross-border flows of people. Some countries have particularly strong border defenses. All national borders are the locus of strict enforcement: there is no country on earth where foreigners can just come in as they wish, and all states are eager to defend the integrity and completeness of their territory and the security of their citizens against attacks by other states or by terrorist infiltrators. Some authoritarian states also use force to keep their people inside their territory.
However, certain borders are fortified more than others. The US-Mexican border, the India-Pakistan border, the separation wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories, and the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea are among the places where the toughest national security and anti-movement policies are in force. Below are some maps and aerial images that illustrate the extent of these policies.
The US is constructing a border fence in order to stop illegal Mexican immigrants – as well as “terrorists” according to some. This fence currently covers about a third of the border. Right wing politicians want to expand it, even though the non-fenced areas are so remote or rugged as to make a fence pointless or impractical. Together with drone aircraft, helicopters, video surveillance, seismic sensors, infrared sensors, private vigilantes and thousands of border patrol guards in all-terrain vehicles and on horse-back, it has indeed driven down the numbers of illegal immigrants – although the recession has also done its bit.
(SOURCE, CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)
The border between these two countries is hotly contested, especially in the region of Kashmir. India is also wary of terrorist infiltration along the entire border. Sometimes called the “Berlin Wall of Asia”, the border has only one road crossing. Half of the border is floodlit, and hence can be seen from space:
To so-called Westbank Barrier between the West Bank and Israel will be approximately 760 kilometres upon completion. In some places it’s a concrete wall. 12% of the West Bank area is on the Israel side of the barrier, meaning that parts of the occupied territories captured by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 are now “in Israel”. The main rationale for the barrier is protection against terrorist incursions, specifically by suicide bombers. The barrier severely disrupts free movement in the Westbank as well as access to Israel for Palestinians working there. Some Jewish settlers, on the other hand, condemn the barrier for appearing to renounce the Jewish claim to the whole of the “Land of Israel”.
Since the end of the Korean war, there’s a country-wide demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, cutting the Korean Peninsula roughly in half along the 38th parallel. It’s 250 kilometres long – plus extensions into the sea – and approximately 4 km wide. It’s the most heavily militarized border in the world.
The South has discovered four tunnels crossing the DMZ, dug by North Korea. The North claimed they were for coal mining but no coal has been found in the tunnels, which are dug through granite. Some of the tunnel walls have been painted black to give the appearance of anthracite. Not very cunning. The tunnels are believed to have been planned as military invasion routes.
The border is visible from space at night, not because it’s floodlit but because of the large difference in electricity use between the prosperous South and the impoverished North:
And, no, it’s not dark because they’re all building tunnels…
Here’s an overview:
(SOURCE, CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)
All these borders are sad reminders of humanity’s penchant for xenophobia, exclusion, parochialism, national hostility and war. And a testimony to almost universally shared misconceptions about property rights over the earth, about freedom of movement and about the value of diversity and equal opportunity.
On the other hand, some groups of countries are going in the other direction and have created zones of free movement among them. Most notable case is the Schengen region.